Gelatin is a colorless and flavorless material that is brittle in a dry state and gummy when moist, made from the collagen of animal body parts such as pigskin, bovine skin, bones, and hooves. Also known as hydrolyzed gelatin, hydrolyzed collagen, gelatin hydrolysate, collagen hydrolysate, and collagen peptides, gelatin finds uses due to its properties as a gelling agent. Specific applications of gelatin include use in food, pharmaceuticals, medications, cosmetics, and photographic films and papers.

Substances that contain gelatin or act in a similar manner are known as gelatinous substances. Although vegetarian and vegan forms of gelatin have been in development, for example, plant-derived HPMC, animal-based gelatin has greater popularity since it is more cost-effective than other types of gelatin. Production of gelatin typically takes place alongside the functioning of normal slaughterhouses, where the animal body parts not used for meat are converted into gelatin to be used by further industries.

Gelatin Market Global Outlook

The global gelatin market size is expected to reach 420 KT (kilo tons) by 2020, projected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 2-3 percent in the same period, with the market for pharmaceutical grade gelatin specifically estimated to grow at a rate of 4-5 percent by 2020. Factors driving the growth of the global gelatin market are increasing demands from end-user industries, lack of potential financially viable substitutes and growth in Asia markets.

The high market maturity regions for gelatin are the U.S. and Europe, the medium maturity regions are India, China, Japan, and Brazil, and the low market maturity regions are Africa and the Middle East. At a global level, the U.S. is a net importer of gelatin, receiving exports from China, Brazil, and France, while other major exporters are Canada and Mexico. Europe, on the other hand, imports from China and Brazil and exports to the U.S., Japan, and other developing nations. China is overall a net exporter with major exports to the U.S. and Korea. While India is dependent on imports, it exports around 30-35 percent of gelatin to other markets such as the U.S., Japan, and Europe.

Currently, the food industry is the biggest end-user of gelatin, accounting for approximately 64 percent of the market, followed by pharmaceuticals for 34 percent of the market. However, the food industry is expected to lose some of its share in the gelatin market to pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals in the coming years. The use of gelatin in photographic films is also declining, freeing up more supply for the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Gelatin Market Trends

The gelatin market has greatly evolved over the years since it was first used for food purposes in the 1400s and became common in use from 1800-1900s, with many trends making their mark.

  • The gelatin production market is highly consolidated with the top 7 players holding nearly 65-70 percent of the market, due to which buyers do not have much bargaining power, except in cases of purchase of large volumes of gelatin. There is no major gap between the supply and demand in the gelatin industry as the major suppliers are already operating at around 90-95 of their installed capacities. Top global suppliers in the gelatin market include Rousselot, Gelita AG, PB Gelatins, Weishardt, Nitta Gelatin, Sterling Biotech, and Narmada Gelatines.

 

  • The key performance indicators in the gelatin market are price, use of approved raw materials, regulatory certifications and product portfolio. Approximately 38 percent of gelatin is produced from pig skin, 33 percent from a bovine hide, 26 percent from bovine bones and 3 percent from others such as fish and poultry. The quality of gelatin depends heavily on the quality of the raw materials used, specifically the original source of collagen from the animal parts. Gelatin manufacturers typically engage in multiple sourcing models for obtaining raw materials that are approved and regulated and located near their manufacturing plants.

 

  • Although gelatin has largely been used in the food industry for its texture giving properties, especially in confectionaries and puddings, the health benefits of gelatin are boosting its popularity in pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals. Gelatin is used to form hard capsules and soft gels to contain other medicines, as a binding agent in tablets, and as a supportive ingredient in syrups and suppositories.

Gelatin, as a protein made primarily from collagen, is considered to be helpful in improving hair texture and shortening recovery time after sports or exercise-related injuries. In medical treatment, gelatin is helpful for treating arthritis and brittle bones, strengthening bones and joints overall. In cases of severe blood loss, gelatin is used to make blood substitutes that can increase the fluid levels in the bloodstream, preventing the body from going into shock.

The popularity of gelatin has grown over the uses as the benefits it offers become more visible. From being a simple food additive to enhance the thickness of a food item, gelatin has become useful as a medium for medication and as medicine itself. Gelatin does face challenges due to it being an animal-based product, however, the global outlook is immensely positive.